How to Collect on Unpaid Accounts

By Ramon Rocha

The bottom line for accounts receivable is: “Books sold on credit are fictitious until the amount due is collected!” I used to preach this at the publishing house I led.

While traveling this past year for MAI, I heard several Christian publishers cry out that they are facing the problem of rising uncollected accounts receivable. What are the steps publishers can take to manage this important balance sheet item?

MAI President John Maust remembers a publisher in Asia having to fire one of FreeDigitalPhotos by David Castillo Dominicihis staff, after overhearing her telephone a deadbeat customer and saying in total exasperation, “If you don’t pay, you’ll be in danger of hell!” Angry statements like this one are commonly heard by debt collectors, but within the Christian community it’s important to approach the situation in a Christ-like manner.

1.   Develop a carefully drawn set of credit policies and practices:
If you already have created policies, review your existing ones. What type of clients qualify for credit?  What is your process for screening customers that are applying for credit? How disciplined are you in enforcing your credit policies?

2.  Age your receivables:
In a spreadsheet, name your credit customers, itemize each invoice amount and  how long the invoice has been past due.  Monitor this report regularly.

3. Make phone calls:
Assign a staff person to  make a friendly phone call to each customer reminding them of debts that are due. Problematic customers get the pleasure of receiving more frequent phone calls. If you are silent and don’t do any follow up calls, the money usually goes just to the “noisier” supplier.

4. The CEO should visit important customers:
There’s nothing like formal, yet friendly visits. Visiting customers makes them feel appreciated, and they will hopefully give priority to paying off your invoices. As a general rule, good customer relations contribute to a good cash flow.

5. Keep money reserves for rough times:
During good years, build up allowances for bad debts. Some customers with unpaid accounts simply vanish. They are Christians, but perhaps their hearts have hardened despite reading Zacchaeus’ story. Pray for them.

In all financial circumstances, may we look to the Lord for provision and wisdom to handle our finances well. Remember to ask: What am I doing to make sure my credit sales are managed properly to ensure I have enough cash to pay my bills on time?  

Find more helpful pointers from Michael Hess’ article at CBS Moneywatch entitled The best way to handle customers who don’t pay.

Do you have any other suggestions? Tell us here.

Photo above courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos, David Castillo Dominici

Win over Your Reader in Your First Chapter

Your opening chapter is your most important one because that is where you strike your deal with the reader—his or her reading time in exchange for what you’re offering. The cover, title, back cover and table of contents are all selling opportunities to bring the reader to this decision point. By the end of the first chapter, the reader will have decided whether and why to continue reading.

To win over your reader, the opening chapter should generally address five Ps:Man-Reading-Kindle-by-Tina-

1. Problem—What’s really wrong and why it really matters to the reader. The best problem is one the reader is highly motivated to address in a reading experience, or would be if he or she knew what the author knows.

2. Premise—How this book will approach and resolve the problem in a unique and promising way. Describes the insight(s), principle or strategy that could solve the problem. The best premise feels fresh, powerful and promising—the reader should, for example, have an “aha!” response on first hearing of it.

3. Personal angle—Why the reader can trust this author to deliver a credible, helpful reading experience. Personal angle may be rooted in experience, education, observation, access to data, or a combination of these. The best angle is the one that shows that the author is not only the best source for help, but understands and respects the reader’s experience, and sincerely wants to help.

4. Promise—“Here’s a preview of what you’ll learn/how you’ll change by the end of the book….” Describes the take-away benefit for the reader. The best promise strikes the reader as credible, likely to be life-changing if applied, and worth paying for.

5. Plan—“In the pages ahead, here’s what will happen…here’s what you’ll think and feel….” Describes the reading experience ahead. The best plan is simple, intuitively sound and strongly motivating.

Alice Crider photo copyAlice Crider is an editor, an author, and an author coach. Since 2011, she has combined her life coaching skills with her writing and 15 years of publishing experience. Alice shared these ideas at LittWorld 2012, gathering many of them from Steps to “Bring about Life Change” by David Kopp.

Photo above by Tina Phillips, courtesy Freedigitalphotos

 

MAI Training Booklets Now in E-books!

Free shipping, no snail mail, and you save a tree! You’ll find our practical training booklets and bestsellers now available in digital formats for Kindle, Apple and Nook products:

How to Write Missionary Letters by Alvera Mickelson: Kindle, Apple, Nook 8926318_xl

The Christian Publisher: Strong in the Storm by Ramon Rocha III: Kindle, Apple, Nook

Your Guide to Creating a Christian Writer Group by Fay Sampson (MAI edition): Kindle, Apple, Nook

Effective Story Writing by Pat Alexander: Kindle, Apple, Nook

Servanthood and the Christian Editor by Judith Markham: Kindle, Apple, Nook

Editorial Vision and Strategy: How to write a mission statement and make it work by Ron Wilson: Kindle, Apple, Nook

Writing for Children: Ideas and techniques to produce stories that children will love by Pat Alexander and Larry Brook: Kindle, Apple, Nook

Do you prefer paper? Check out our other practical resources in print format for publishing, writing and editing.

Photo above courtesy of Andrey Kravchenko

The Importance of Drafting

This post was used by permission of award-winning novelist T. Davis Bunn and originally published on his blog as “The Hardest Thing A Novelist Faces” on August 6, 2013.
During the creative process, there are going to be moments when you have explosions of bliss. For the Christian writer, this is a feeling of moving into the presence of God. ‘Self’ disappears and you become one with the idea you are constructing on the page.

And then there’s the next day.

The next day, you go back and re-read what you write yesterday, looking for a cheap high. You want to feel those energies again.

When you start to re-read, you’ll notice a thread that’s dangling… an imperfection. And so you drop this; you change that. All of a sudden, the beautiful tapestry you put together yesterday is gone. It’s dead. It’s just words on the page. You’ve lost the ability to use the momentum of yesterday to begin work on a new empty page.

Many beginning novelists fear that their draft is doing to require changes, and so they start making the changes as they write.

Don’t do this.

What you’ll find is that you’ll feel compelled to change it again and again. Instead, finish theYoung Girl typing by -Marcus- Freedigital photos story. If possible, I urge you to not even re-read your work until you finish your first draft.

The hardest thing you will face as an artist is the empty page. But you will never establish your “voice” through re-writing. It comes through first drafting.

The importance of drafting

Too often, an author mistakes their early book for their profession. It’s not the same. You need to be establishing the discipline of regular output, not just in terms of pages, but in terms of stories. You need to be able to see yourself as growing, through the story, into the next story – into becoming a commercial writer.

A successful novelist has to be convinced that this is a great book and that what you are doing is what you should be working on now, and that you are the person to write this story. This drives you through the first draft.

The second draft is all about doubt. You question everything. I suggest approaching the second draft from the standpoint of developing your creative concept into a product. These two need to be separate entities.

You write the story and it’s your baby until you hit the climax.

Then you set it aside… you divorce yourself from the project, preferably by starting your next book. And then you do the re-drafting. Until you have identified yourself with the next story, you should not begin the re-drafting. What you’ll discover is that re-drafting is more of a refining process than a drastic alteration.

How I draft stories

During the first draft, I write in blocks of about 40 pages. I make constant notes at the beginning of each of these blocks. By the time I’ve finished writing a story, I will have as many as 10 pages of notes for a 40-page segment. In my notes, I write out, in dialogue form, actual passages I’m thinking of inserting, but I won’t try to find where those passages should go in the story. I won’t look at anything until I’ve finished the story.

If I’m thinking of making a big change, such as deleting a character, I will make a note that indicates at which block the character no longer exists. But I will not take the character out during the first drafting process.

The result is not just a heightened flow; I’m able to maintain the sense of confidence in my storytelling ability through that first-drafting process.

I can doubt the story and myself when I start the second draft. But not during the first draft.

What about you?

What technique works best for you when drafting a story?

Photo above courtesy Free digital photos

Creative Ways to Expand Your Market

Publishers, are you looking for a way to expand your market?  Romanian publisher and children’s author Balázs Zágoni suggests ideas to promote sales.

1)      Access BRIEF (Book Rights International Exchange Forum)

BRIEF is a forum of European publishers committed to marketing books across international borders.  Through this venue publishers are able to view titles and chapter excerpts from books, CVs of authors and to purchase rights.  BRIEF is open to Christian publishers from all nations.

2)      Expand  your market toward English speaking people

When Koinonia Publishers experimentally translated a devotional from Hungarian into English, they were surprised by who bought the book. They discovered a new market of English readers within their own country.

 3)      Create a checklist for authors of all possible market contacts

Include written media, electronic and other forms which could expand your market.

4)      Create a YouTube video

Using professional equipment or a smartphone, interview the author or designer and upload it to YouTube.  This may receive hundreds of views and may also be linked from Facebook.

 Have you had success with any particular marketing method? Tell us here.

This LittWorld 2012 video was shot and produced by Good News Productions in Nairobi, Kenya, for MAI .